COVID-19 Updates

May 5th:

* The 2020 Big Top Chautauqua Season has been cancelled.

* The Spring Season and 56th Season Opener scheduled for May 16th had been delayed.

It might be called the carrot and the stick approach. Republican legislators in Wisconsin are urging the State Supreme Court to overturn Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home executive order. The GOP thinks the order to contain the Corona virus is too strict. They want Evers or the justices to open up parts of the state not heavily impacted by the pandemic like Northern Wisconsin. But while the High Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case today,talks between the Governor and legislative leaders have begun on a possible compromise. Evers told us he’s willing to listen to the majority party,but not if they’re merely going to criticize his order. He wants a substantive alternative plan.The executive order is set to last until May 26th. By the way,Evers announced yesterday at his Corona virus briefing that all state nursing homes will receive testing.  

May 4th:

Safer at Home might not be safe. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has extended his Safer at Home executive order until May 26th. That order..designed to control the spread of the Corona virus .forces non essential businesses to stay closed or operate under tight restrictions. It also discourages non essential travel. But tomorrow the State Supreme Court will hear arguments that could result in ending the order. James Bolen.who runs a resort in the Cable area..wants the high court to reverse Safer at Home. He argues rural areas of the state should be given more flexibility since they have not been hard hit by the virus. Nearly eight thousand cases of Corona virus have been reported in Wisconsin and nearly three hundred forty related deaths. Ashland health officials are working with the National Guard to offer free testing to people with symptoms of the virus. Those tests will be available this Thursday between eleven and seven in the driveway of the Lake Superior School and available to anyone over age five experiencing symptoms.

April 30th:

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has won praise and criticism for his handling of the Corona virus threat. The Governor’s supporters like the way he’s extended his executive Safer at Home order until May 26th. They think severely restricting non essential businesses and discouraging non essential travel is saving lives. But Ever’s’ critics argue his order is too rigid and counter productive.  They think it could force the permanent shutdown of many small businesses.The Governor does not seem to be bothered by the criticism..though he has made changes to his re-opening dozens of state parks and forests. He;s also loosened some restrictions on businesses. In the meantime,Republican legislators are still hoping to get the State Supreme Court to reverse Evers’ executive order. The GOP also will hold a legislative hearing today in Madison to hear from businesses owners adversely impacted by Safer at Home.

April 29th:

The numbers are sobering..Wisconsin now reports almost sixty-three hundred confirmed cases of the Corona virus..and virus related deaths here have reached three hundred. Governor Tony Evers is extending his Safer at Home executive order until may 26th in an effort to contain the pandemic. Evers is trying to be flexible..allowing more non essential businesses to open with restrictions. The Governor is also re-opening some state parks and forests beginning Friday..again with restrictions. But Republicans in the legislature say that’s not good enough..The GOP hopes the State Supreme Court reverses Ever’s executive order. Some labor unions have joined that effort. Evers’ critics want parts of the state not hard hit by the virus to be given more authority to open.

April 27th:

The numbers keep rising in Wisconsin. We’re talking about the confirmed cases of Caronavirus in the Badger State…which now stand at fifty nine hundred eleven.  The number of Corona virus related deaths has reached two hundred seventy two.  So Governor Tony Evers is keeping his Safer At Home order in place until May 26th..with slight modifications like the opening of golf courses. That situation has led to more protests. One outside the Capital in Madison over the weekend drew about a thousand..smaller than expected but still big enough to be noticed.  Some of the protesters came from rural areas where the virus has not hit hard. One woman we spoke to argues smaller stores should be allowed to open like the big stores. But under Evers’ executive order,so called non essential businesses remain closed or severely restricted.  Meanwhile,Republican Legislators wait for the State Supreme Court to weight in on their request to reverse the order.

April 23rd :

People’s protests can be patriotic ..personal…and partisan. Perhaps the protests in Wisconsin to Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home executive order could be described those ways. Many people at the protests carry American Flags.  They also have personal stories to tell about losing their jobs due to the state’s partial economic shutdown. And many of the protesters support President Trump.  Bottom line,the protesters want Evers to open up many so called non essential businesses..especially in the northern part of the state. A huge protest is planned in Madison on Friday outside the Capital Building. Sara Wartman of the Bayfield County Health Department understands the urgency..but she also wants caution and says businesses owners generally agree. Governor Evers’ executive order closing most businesses or at least restricting them stays in effect until May 26th. That could change if the State Supreme Court requested by Republican Legislators.

April 22nd:

It’s a tough call…whether Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers should re-open the state’s economy or continue the shutdown of most businesses to control the Corona virus. The Governor has chosen the latter approach..extending his executive order until May 26th. That has drawn lots of opposition. Republican Legislators are asking the State Supreme Court to reverse Evers’ decision. Some protests are also being held throughout the state to pressure the Governor to change his mind and at least re-open parts of Northern Wisconsin. But Sara Wortman of the Bayfield County Health Department understands where Evers is coming from. Wortman says his first priority must be the protection of human life and trying to balance that with the state’s economic need. By the way,Bayfield County has only three confirmed cases of the virus.

April 21st:

When will Wisconsin’s economy be re-opened?  Governor Tony Evers has extended his so called Safer at Home executive order until May 26th. That has angered many Republican Legislators,who feel the shutdown has needlessly crippled many Northern Wisconsin businesses. The northern part of the state has seen relatively few Corona virus cases..a few counties have not seen any. The Governor announced yesterday that he will re-open our economy only when certain conditions are met. The state will have to increase the amount of protective equipment,grow contact tracing,expand testing and lab capacity. Evers wants eighty five thousand tests per week.

April 20th:

Bayfield County Lists First Fatality from COVID-19.

Just because Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers does something,does not mean the Republican Controlled Legislature has to go along. Evers is extending his so called ”Safer at Home” executive order until May 26th. That means virtually every businesses deemed non essential would stay closed or under severe restrictions; Republican legislators want to challenge Evers’ move in the State Supreme Court. Hazelhurst State Senator Tom Tiffany..who’s also running for Congress..thinks the executive order is unconstitutional. The GOP is cautiously optimistic about the executive order being reversed. The high court recently reversed the Governor’s order delaying the April 7th Presidential Primary and elections. So the April 7th in person voting went on as planned. By the way,even if the Safer at Home order is extended another month,golf courses are set to open Friday weather permitting

April 17th:

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers seems to be in one. Evers is extending his controversial ‘Safer at Home” order until May 26th in an effort to stop the spread of the Corona virus. The order means schools will be closed for the rest of the academic year. It also means bars and restaurants will be limited to carry-outs and deliveries. Some non essential businesses which have been closed might be able to open with limitations..same with libraries. Golf courses can open. But the partial shutdown generally will continue until May 26th. Republican legislators..who control the Assembly and Senate..are not happy. Many want Evers to be more flexible with his order..paving the way for some non essential businesses to open and for some travel restrictions to be relaxed. But the GOP can apparently not overturn the order.  By the way,there are now about thirty eight hundred confirmed cases of the virus in the Badger State..about two hundred have been fatal.

April 14th:

Because of the ongoing Corona virus threat,Wisconsin’s April 7th Presidential Primary was essentially a delayed election. While the in person balloting was held last Tuesday..absentee votes ..and the results of the race…were not counted and announced until Monday night.  Joe Biden easily beat Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary. Bayfield County Democratic State Senator Janet Bewley..who’s a member of her party’s National Committee…thinks the primary was a big deal..even though it was controversial because of Carona…and despite the fact Biden has wrapped up the nomination.. The way..the other big race announced yesterday was for the State Supreme Court…Justice Daniel Kelly wanted to get elected to a ten year term.  Kelly failed…losing to Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky. The Wisconsin Legislature will be busy today. The Senate and Assembly will hold an extraordinary session to deal with bills aimed at helping the state deal with the Corona virus. There are more than thirty four hundred confirmed cases of the virus..more than a hundred fifty have been fatal.

April 13:

Talk about a double whammy. Northern Wisconsin continues to deal with the Corona Virus and now we get a Mid April snowstorm. The storm is dropping a foot or more of wet heavy snow in many places. The only positive is that all schools and most businesses are already closed due to the virus. But the harsh weather could disrupt meal deliveries. Today,the results of the April 7th Wisconsin Presidential Primary will be announced along with the State Supreme Court Election and other races. Those results are delayed because more time was given to hand in absentee ballots. Speaking of elections..Governor Tony Evers is considering delaying the May 12th Special Northern Wisconsin Congressional Election. That race pits Republican Tom Tiffany,a State Senator from Hazelhurst versus Democrat Tricia Zunker,a member of the Ho Chunk Nation and President of the Wausau school board. Evers might push the balloting back when the Corona threat has subsided. Wisconsin now has more than thirty-three hundred confirmed cases and at least a hundred forty-four deaths. Most of those tragic numbers come from the Southeast part of the Badger State..specifically Milwaukee and Madison.

April 9th:

Coping with the Corona Virus is not easy. The virus has led to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers ordering all non essential businesses closed. Schools are closed. Non essential activities are postponed or cancelled. Many bars and restaurants remain open,but only for deliveries and carry-outs. Bayfield County State Senator Janet Bewley thinks Northern Wisconsin hospitals are dealing with the pandemic relatively well.Businesses are also stepping up. For example,the AmericInn in Ashland is offering discounts to hospital workers and others fighting the disease. But Bewley is concerned about a lack of internet access in some places. That’s long been a problem in our area  and it’s especially serious during the Corona outbreak. Currently,Wisconsin has roughly twenty eight hundred confirmed cases of the virus..and more than a hundred deaths.  The virus is expected to peak in the Badger State around April 17th

April 8th:

Despite the ongoing Corona Virus,Wisconsin held its Presidential Primary and Elections Tuesday..Governor Tony Evers tried to delay the in person voting until June because of concerns over the virus. The State Supreme Court reversed Ever’s’ executive order on Monday at the request of Republican legislators. Voter turnout through out the state was generally good,even in Milwaukee and Madison,where the virus has hit hardest. So voters..many wearing masks…had to deal with measures aimed at lessening the health risk..Cheryl Westbrook served as a poll worker in the northern part of the state,where turnout was not as strong. Westbrook says voters had to practice social distancing and use hand sanitizer,as did volunteers like her.  But some people who went to the polls were still reluctant..Results of the Presidential Primary..State Supreme Court Election..and other races will not be known until April 13th because the courts have ruled absentee ballots must be counted.Wisconsin now has nearly twenty six hundred confirmed cases of Corona Virus and more than ninety deaths. It could be worse. Michigan has seen about nineteen thousand Corona cases and more than eight hundred forty deaths.

April 7th:

The on again,off again Wisconsin Presidential Primary and elections are on again. The Wisconsin Supreme Court..dominated by conservatives..ruled yesterday against Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ order that would have delayed voting until June. Evers is concerned the Corona Virus will put voters and poll workers at risk,.Most Republican Legislators are confident the Primary and elections can be held without undue health risk. The state’s high court apparently agrees. So in person ballots will be cast between seven am and eight pm. In places where there’s a shortage of poll workers,the National Guard will help. The big race today in Wisconsin will not be the Democratic Primary between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Biden leads in the polls and has virtually wrapped up his party’s presidential nomination. The big race is the Wisconsin Supreme Court Election. That pits Justice Daniel Klelly versus Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky. Kelly enjoys the support of the Republicans,Karofsky has the backing of Democrats. Wisconsin now has more than twenty two hundred confirmed cases of Corona,and eighty are fatal.

March 6th:

Wisconsin’s getting ready for Tuesday’s Presidential Primary and elections. But the circumstances are far from ideal. In person voting will take place around the Badger State despite the ongoing threat of the Carona Virus. Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers wanted the Republican controlled Legislature to postpone the Primary and elections to May,when the voting would be done strictly by mail. GOP lawmakers rejected the idea over the weekend during a very brief special session.  That seemingly is the last roadblock to tomorrow’s event,though several mayors are calling for the state to issue an emergency order to stop in person balloting. If that fails,National Guard Troops will have to man some polling places because of the lack of volunteers. Also over the weekend,Wisconsin was granted a Federal Disaster Declaration from the feds making it eligible for more assistance. More than twenty-two hundred cases of the virus have now been confirmed in Wisconsin,including a fourth case in Vilas County. Nearly seventy of those patients have died.

April 3rd:

In the end,the judge would not budge. A federal judge has refused to block Wisconsin’s April 7th Primary despite the ongoing threat of the Corona Virus. Lawsuits had been filed urging the postponement of the primary because of health concerns. The judge also is worried about the risk,but does not think he has the authority to block the primary and elections. So polling places will be open Tuesday. Some might have to be manned by National Guard troops because of the lack of poll workers. If you don’t want to vote in person,you have until five pm Friday to get an absentee ballot. You have until April 13th to turn the ballot into a local clerk.  The big statewide race Tuesday will be for the Supreme Court. Justice Daniel Kelly ..who was appointed to the high court by then Governor Scott Walker..seeks a ten year term. He’s been challenged by Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky. Supreme Court races in Wisconsin have become highly partisan over the years. Kelly has the support of the state Republican party. Karofsky enjoys the backing of the Democratic party.

Generally you have to adjust to life. Life does not adjust to you. The ongoing Corona Virus Crisis has forced major adjustments. It was announced yesterday that the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee originally planned for July 13th through the 16th will be pushed back. The convention will now be held starting August 17th. That’s a relief for Wisconsin Democrats,who feared the event would be cancelled. It was also announced yesterday that the April 7th Wisconsin Primary and Elections will go on as planned on Tuesday,though the time to get and return absentee ballots has been extended. You have until five tonight to request a ballot. You have until April 13th to return the ballot to a clerk. A federal judge decided not to postpone the event,despite lawsuits arguing the elections could pose health risks because of the Carona Virus. In the meantime,confirmed cases of the virus have risen in Wisconsin to more than seventeen hundred with more than thirty deaths. But it could be worse. Michigan has nearly eleven thousand confirmed cases of the virus and more than four hundred deaths. Michigan’s one of the hardest hit states.

April 2nd:

Wisconsin now has more than sixteen hundred confirmed cases of Carona Virus. That’s a fifty percent jump since Saturday. Thirty-two of the cases in the Badger State were fatal.  Ashland County still has only one case of Corona..but County Administrator Clark Schroeder says the economic impact in Ashland is already huge. Despite the spread of the Corona Virus,Wisconsin will apparently still hold its Presidential Primary Tuesday. It won’t be much of a Democratic Primary since Joe Biden seems like a lock to beat Bernie Sanders in what was once viewed as a tight race. Tuesday will also feature a State Supreme Court race between incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly and challenger Jill Karofsky,a Dane County Circuit Judge. Whomever wins gets a ten year term

April 1st:

The ongoing Carona Virus threat is about more than mere numbers.  But the numbers matter. Wisconsin now has more than thirteen hundred confirmed cases and at least twenty five have proved fatal. Bayfield County has confirmed its third case. I spoke to Sara Wortman..who heads the county’s department of health and human services. Wortman says the patient did not travel outside the area and did not make contact with anyone who had the virus. The latest their hospitalized. Northern Wisconsin has managed to avoid the worst of the Corona Virus..but the numbers are increasing. A new report predicts the virus won’t peak in the Badger State until April 26th. Governor Tony Evers has requested a federal disaster declaration to get more financial assistance.  Problem is..many states are asking for it.

March 31st:

Numbers don’t always tell the story,but sometimes they do,. Corona Virus cases in Wisconsin have risen to about thirteen hundred with more than twenty being fatal. Ashland County has its first confirmed case of the virus. That patient had recently traveled in the U-S and developed symptoms shortly afterward. The person is quarantined and recovering at home.  Mary Mc Phetridge of the Ashland Chamber says the ongoing threat of the virus and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ order to partially shut down the state is dealing a huge blow to the area. But she adds her group is helping small businesses cope and the financial relief package approved by President Trump and Congress should also make a big difference.

March 30th:

The numbers get bigger and scarier when it comes to the Carona Virus.  In Wisconsin,more than eleven hundred Carona cases have been confirmed..eighteen have proved fatal. Those numbers are expected to rise in the near future despite Governor Evers’ order shutting down non essential businesses. Oneida County..which saw its first case confirmed last has three total. Marathon County reports a second case. Douglas County has six confirmed cases..Bayfield County has two.  A patient who tested positive was known to have visited two Ashland locations. I spoke to Bayfield County State Senator Janet Bewley who defends Governor Evers’ strict approach to fighting the virus even tho some republican critics says it’s too harsh.Bottom line..while Wisconsin has not been as hard hit as some other states…Michigan has seen more than a hundred thirty deaths,including a state legislator….the Badger State is still struggling to contain the virus.

March 27th:

The Carona Virus is bad and unfortunately getting worse. In Wisconsin,the number of confirmed cases is now up to more than seven hundred with twelve deaths.  Iron County’s first confirmed case of the illness was announced yesterday and it was fatal.  Vilas and Bayfield Counties have seen their second non fatal cases of Carona. The Vilas County patient is reported to be in isolation. The names and exact locations of the victims not being released. By the way, in Vilas County some people called 9-1-1 to get more information. Law enforcement does not want that. Confidentiality laws prevent the release of private information and 9-1-1 calls should only be made for emergencies. Upper Michigan is not immune from the threat. The virus has claimed an elderly man with other health issues in Gogebic County. The ongoing health crisis has impacted just about every aspect of life in Wisconsin,Michigan,Minnesota and the rest of the nation.  All non essential businesses are closed. Bars and restaurants can only stay open for deliveries and carry outs.All schoos are closed. Access to government buildings is restricted. Virtually all activities are postponed or cancelled. The DNR has even suspended burning permits until further notice.I spoke to Catherine Koele the DNR’s Wildfire Prevention Specialist,who says the move is aimed partly at protecting the health of agency personnel. It’s also approaching the time when forest land is vulnerable to fire.


March 26th:

Cases of the virus in Wisconsin have risen to five hundred eighty-five..with at least five deaths. Vilas County has reported its first case of the virus. Governor Evers’ stay-at-home order took effect yesterday morning at eight in hopes of stopping the spread of the disease. All non essential businesses and activities are forced to close until April 24th. The ongoing threat has meant tough times for Chambers of Commerce and the businesses they serve. Mary Mc Phetridge of the Ashland Chamber says her group is working with the Economic Development Corporation to secure no interest loans for struggling businesses. There’s more good news..Congress has passed a more than two trillion dollar financial aid package. President Trump promises to sign it.

March 25th:

Beginning at eight this morning,Wisconsin is in partial shutdown. Governor Evers has issued a safer at home order because of the Corona Virus. It’s essentially a stay at home order. All non essential businesses and activities will have to close if they’re not already. That order will stay in effect until April 24th

March 24th:

Non-essential businesses closed til further notice. Virtually all activities are either postponed or cancelled.  Under Evers’ order,doctors’ offices…hospitals…pharmacies…grocery stores ..convenience stores ..banks…credit unions and media outlets can remain open. So can bars and restaurants,but only for deliveries and carry outs.  Not everyone supports the Governors’ latest move. Some republican legislators think he’s gone too far. By the way in our listening area,organizers of the Madeline Island Marathon and Half Marathon have cancelled the May 16th events. The DNR is suspending in person County Deer Advisory Council meetings.

March 23rd Update- Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has decided to essentially shut down the Badger State. Evers is ordering all non essential businesses to close and all non essential activities to be put on hold. Wisconsin is the latest state to take drastic steps because confirmed cases of the virus keep rising…as do deaths. Under the Governor’s order,only groceries stores can remain open…along with bars and restaurants for carry outs….doctors’ offices…pharmacies….hospitals…and presumably banks. People can go outside…but groups of ten or more people are prohibited. Prior to Evers’ latest order,many Northern Wisconsin counties have issues non binding messages urging people who don’t live in the area not visit. Dick Pufal, .Ashland County Board Chair., ays he’s never seen anything like this. Ashland,Bayfield,and Sawyer Counties have all issued travel advisories. Again,Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has issued a stay-at-home order statewide that will close all non essential businesses for the foreseeable future.

~ Motorhead Madness has been cancelled due to health concerns.

~ Seven Winds Casino has postponed the scheduled MMA Event.

~ Heartland Communications has postponed it’s marketing seminar.

~ Heart Communications has postponed the annual Home and Sport Show.

~ Northland College has suspended all classes and students must leave campus by Friday (3/20/20).

~ The UW Extension has cancelled the Annual Farm and Garden Show.

~ The Bretting Community Center will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday, March 17 through April 5. If you have any questions, staff will be available at 715-682-7059.

~ The Vaughn Public Library will be closed as of Thursday, March 19. All meeting room and programming through the Library will be cancelled at this time. Staff will be available to answer any questions at 715-682-7060.

~ The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board in Ashland has announced it’s temporarily closing  three job centers.

~ The Chequamegon Symphony Orchestra has cancelled its April 4th concert

~ Bad River Lodge and Casino has cancelled all Buffets until further notice.  Comedy Night has also been cancelled at Bad River.

~ Memorial Medical Center is implementing visitor restrictions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including Coronavirus (COVID-19). Only one well visitor per patient will be allowed entrance into the facility to help control the spread of illness. Any visitors with flu-like symptoms such as fever and new or worsening cough or shortness of breath will not be allowed entrance.

~ Zion Lutheran Church, Ashland, WI is currently closed March 17th  through a tentative date of April 1st.

~ The City of Ashland Public Works Department will close to the public on March 19, 2020, there will be someone available by phone 715.682.7061 during regular business hours M-F 7:00am-3:30pm.  Staff will continue normal functions on-site and available to address your concerns by telephone or e-mail exchange;  however, will not be available for face-to-face contacts.  Essential personal contacts will be by scheduled appointment only.  All deliveries can be left in the parcel drop box or the mail box, these will be checked on a regular basis during business hours. Operations at the Water and Waste Water utility will continue as normal, fully staffed with emergency call-out after hours.  The Waste Water Lab will not be accepting water samples until further notice.

~ Sevenwinds Casino has cancelled the Rhonda Vincent Concert scheduled for Thursday Night.

3/18/20 – Additions:

~ The Fundrasier Spaghetti Dinner Bohemian Hall, 319 11th Ave. E, Ashland WI Saturday March 21 – 5 to 8 p.m. has been postponed.

~Governor Evers also announced yesterday that all schools are closed indefinitely. They were to close by executive order on Thursday at the latest and re open by April 6th.

~The Bayfield Chamber and Visitors Bureau has updated its list of local businesses impacted by the Corona Virus: The Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center is closed. Cafe Coco closing on Thursday at five pm. The Apostle Islands Booksellers is closing its doors effective immediately.

~  In the interest of the public well being, the Bad River Lodge an Casino will close at 11:59PM tonight (Wednesday) for an expected two week period.

3/19/20 Update:

~ Ashland Mayor Debra Lewis has declared a state of emergency in the city to deal with the pandemic.  The emergency declaration stays in effect until March 31st ..It might be ending sooner if the Ashland council can convene.

~ Northlake Clinics in Ashland will soon be offering curbside testing for the virus.

~ Officials have announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Bayfield County.